By Rachel Stern
In Judaism, a mitzvah is a commandment from G-d. G-d gave us 613 commandments and it is our duty to try and fulfill as many as possible. A few amazing people have taken mitzvot to a whole new level, in order to make the world a better place.
Monica Simpson, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, is one such person, who has a huge heart and enjoys putting a smile on children’s faces. Simpson is a member of Congregation Beth El, which every year hosts Mighty Mitzvah Sunday, a day of good deeds which is comprised of 12 various programs, all set with the goal to help those in need. Some examples of their programs are donating blood, sewing pillows for cancer patients and handing out cards to veterans.
One program for Mighty Mitzvah Sunday was sewing dolls to be delivered to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Simpson’s son McLain decided as part of his Bar Mitzvah project to deliver the dolls to Schneider Children’s Hospital in Tel Aviv. Together, with their friend Julie Hyde they sewed, stuffed and clothed over 100 dolls. As Simpson put it: “He decided to do a Mighty Mitzvah, and make these dolls.” As McLain walked through the oncology ward, word spread throughout the halls and children who could barely walk came out to see and receive their dolls. These dolls had no faces on them so that the children could draw them on with markers in any way that they pleased.
When she and her son brought these dolls to the hospitals, the children were all very excited and exclaimed: “Boobah! Boobah!” which means doll in Hebrew. The staff all thanked Simpson and her son for doing such a special and kind thing for those sick children.
“It was the perfect Bar Mitzvah project, there were mitzvahs all around,” Simpson said.
On the other side of the country, another unique and beautiful mitzvah project is very active in its community. Hindi’s Libraries is a literacy nonprofit organization, collecting “new and gently used books, sending them all over the world.” Their goal is to promote literacy and commemorate Hindi Krinsky. Krinsky was a mother of five and passed away suddenly and tragically from complications of Crohn’s Disease in August 2018. Krinsky’s former colleague Leslie Gang, along with Krinsky’s husband Dovid Kanarfogel, have been working on this wonderful and amazing project.
In September of 2018, a free library box was created and painted with Krinsky in mind. Parents donated a book or two and before they knew it, 500 books were donated to the school — too many to fit in the box. The project expanded quickly and they soon partnered with more than 375 organizations spanning across all 50 states, Israel, Puerto Rico, and India. The program has already sent 35,000 books abroad and 20,000 books are still being sorted and shipped daily. Each book is dedicated to Krinsky with a special label that includes a quote from a former student. This way, as Gang put it, “Through each book, the child who receives it is connected to Hindi in some fashion.”
Book drives take place all over the community, as well as the world. Gang said: “There is always a way for someone to get involved.” Hindi’s Libraries accepts all types of children’s books in like new condition. To learn more, visit hindislibraries.com.